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21 Day Racial Equity & Social Justice Challenge Fall 2020: Home

Fall 2020 | Cuesta College

The recent tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others have highlighted the systemic racism that exists towards Black people and other communities of color. As we stand in solidarity with those fighting for justice, we invite you to engage in the 21 Day Racial Equity & Social Justice Challenge as a significant action every individual can take to make a difference. We think the Challenge is one of the most powerful interventions an organization can do to build community and create an inclusive culture. While we modeled this program on those done in other areas, this one is unique to our campus and community, highlighting local issues to help us all better understand how we can take meaningful action.
Have you ever made a successful change in your life? Perhaps you wanted to exercise more, eat less, or change jobs? Think about the time and attention you dedicated to the process. A lot, right? Change is hard. Creating effective social justice habits, particularly those dealing with issues of power, privilege and leadership is like any lifestyle change. Setting our intentions and adjusting what we spend our time doing is essential. It's all about building new habits. Sometimes the hardest part is just getting started. The good news is, there's an abundance of resources just waiting to empower you to be a more effective player in the quest for justice.
The Challenge can lead to transformative results, including:
    •    Building new, positive habits that can change ourselves, our teams, our organizations and our communities

    •    Taking small actions alongside one another to create momentum and a sense of teamwork

    •    Creating a profound, elevating experience to increase the likelihood that participants will take action

    •    Participating in meaningful conversations about racism and social justice

We look forward to you joining us in this commitment towards racial equity and social justice. Systemic change starts with each of us individually, and together we learn and grow. Welcome to the 21 Day Racial Equity and Social Justice Challenge!

Disclaimer: Cuesta College and partners are not responsible for content created by outside parties including external links and PDFs. The organizers have made as much effort as possible to provide accessible links and resources. All advertisements related to any video, website, or article are not endorsed by the organizers. 

Week 1: The Basics

Before you get started, if you haven’t done so already, please fill out the pre-survey to set your intentions and share your goals for the challenge with us. We also encourage you to download your Challenge Reflection Log – a tool to ensure you are taking full advantage of what the challenge has to offer. 

For many people, systemic racism is not something we are used to talking about. The events of this past summer have brought systemic racism into the public conversation - often with confusing and emotional results. We’re starting off this challenge with a brief primer on some of the basic facts. We encourage you to refer to the Aspen Institute’s structural racism glossary for key terms and definitions that will come up in the challenge. 

As with all of the elements of this challenge, these activities just scratch the surface of the issues. Systemic racism has been intricately woven into the very being of our national political, economic, and social structures for hundreds of years. A few videos and articles are not going to make any of us experts or solve this complex problem. What we do hope is that each week you will be inspired to seek more information, make connections locally, and establish a commitment to act in your way to build a more inclusive community. How each one of us does this will be individual, but each of us can contribute to building a better future.

We want to thank YWCA of Greater Cleveland for their materials and resources as well as Dr. Eddie Moore and Debby Irving who first started the 21 Day Racial Equity Challenge.


Other Resources:

  • Watch one or more episodes of TIME Magazine’s “Race in the Workplace,” a multi-part series focused on practical approaches to improving and advancing racial equity, diversity, and inclusion in organizations

“The only way to undo racism is to consistently identify and describe it — and then dismantle it,” writes professor Ibram X. Kendi. Watch this short video (2mins 5sec) about the difference between being non-racist and anti-racist.


  • Option 1: In How to be Anti-Racist, Dr. Ibram X. Kendi explains how becoming anti-racist involves reflecting on our thoughts and actions and making intentional choices (video, 12minutes20seconds)
  • Option 2:  Explore the difference between 'not racist' and ‘antiracist’ with an in-depth conversation with Dr.Ibram X. Kendi (52 minutes)

Other Resources:

It is hard to talk about racism without talking about whiteness and white supremacy. Today’s activities give you some background on whiteness and how it has been perpetuated in structures throughout our history.   

This day also includes our first set of reflection questions for the week as well as a suggested action. We encourage you to take a few moments to reflect on the things you’ve explored and talk to a friend, co-worker, or family member about something you’ve learned.


Support your local student and community groups advocating for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Today’s action is to follow one or more of these local groups through instagram, facebook, or twitter and/or sign up to get their regular newsletters/updates. This will ensure you are aware of the everyday amazing work happening in your local area.

Reflection Questions:

  • What do you now understand racism to be? Is this different from the way you thought about race prior to this week's activities?
  • How have this week's activities impacted your view of race in America?
  • What do you want to know more about after participating in this week's activities?
  • How will you act on the knowledge you’ve gained this week? 

Other Resources:

Week 2: Voting

This week, we look at the history of voter suppression and how Black, Indigenous and people of color were systemically kept from the ballot box, as well as the challenges they had to overcome in order to exercise their right to vote. We’ll explore the complicated path to white women earning the right to vote in 1920 with Black and Indigenous women left to wait another 40+ years. Finally, we’ll consider the impact of local elections and consider how we vote today.

Today is Indigenous People's Day! Check out why more places are abandoning Columbus Day in favor of Indigenous Peoples Day.


JUST DO IT! Before you go further, if you are a U.S. citizen, make sure you are registered to vote! This is your Constitutional right and it is easy to do. Did you know you need to re-register if you have moved, changed party affiliation or changed your name? Are you wondering if you ever remembered to register? It takes just a few minutes to take care of this. Go to: In California, you can even register on election day, but don’t wait!

Today’s activities cover some of the key issues in barriers to voting that Americans have faced over the years. While some of the following focus on specific identity groups, every one of us should be vigilant, because someday it could be our identity group that is disenfranchised.


White American women won the right to vote nationally August 14, 1920. This year we marked the centennial of that event. We often romanticize this movement as a gathering of women seeking representation. It was a long-term, often violent battle, and significant groups of women were left behind in order to make the movement more palatable to white male lawmakers who would have to approve the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Black and Indigenous women did not earn the right to vote until the 1960s. For a history of voting rights in America, check out this timeline.

Indigenous suffragist Zitkala-Sa. National Museum of American History


Other Resources

All politics is local. You may have heard this saying and brushed it off, but it really is true - your vote has its biggest impact right in your own neighborhood. In 2014, the Pismo Beach mayoral race was decided by 2 votes! In 2020, all registered voters in California will receive a ballot in the mail and have the option of returning it by mail, dropping it off at a ballot collection site, such as the County Clerk Recorder’s office or bringing it to a polling station anywhere in California to vote in person.

As we end the second week of the challenge, we encourage you to take a few moments to reflect on the things you’ve explored and talk to a friend, co-worker, or family member about something you’ve learned.


Reflection Questions:

  • How does voter suppression continue in America today?
  • In what ways can you ensure your voice is heard in the 2020 election? 
  • What are the local issues you are following in the upcoming election?  What issues are most important to you?
  • How will you act on the knowledge you’ve gained this week?

Week 3: Cultural Appropriation

This week we'll learn about cultural appropriation, the controversy around statues, and ways we can make informed decisions about everything from costumes and theme parties to hair styles and sports teams.

Images depicting everything from team mascots to halloween costumes have long legacies of racist and derogatory meaning, perpetuating stereotypes and appropriating important and sacred cultural symbols from Black, Indigenous, and people of color. Cultural appropriation is a remnant of the settler-colonial practice of taking everything from land, to artifacts, to language, clothing,  food, and the people themselves and mis-using and mis-representing them in the service of trying to denigrate or erase the original. This practice contributes to real physical and psychological damage to the people it targets and is even more insidious because it pretends to be harmless. It is in fact quite harmful.  

Often we think about cultural appropriation in connection with material goods or how we fashion our appearance, but such ‘common’ imagery can be damaging. Similarly, ordinary statues that are intended to be celebratory can cause great pain as well. 

All My Relations: A Podcast delving into topics facing Native peoples today

Cultural appropriation targets people of all underrepresented  identities. Whether via a Halloween costume, chant at a sports event, or trendy fashion item. We encourage you to explore as many of the following options as possible to learn about this topic from a variety of perspectives.


Other Resources:


You might recall some of the conversations around the California missions and statues being removed this past summer. In San Luis Obispo, the Chumash people have been demanding for decades that the statue of Father Junipero Serra be removed, as it is a daily reminder of the forced conversion, land appropriation, and enslavement their ancestors were subjected to by the mission system.

Removal of Junipero Serra Statue


Other Resources:

We start today by honoring and acknowledging the earliest residents and caretakers of our local area, the yak titʸu titʸu yak tiłhini (ytt) a tribe of indigenous Northern Chumash people from the San Luis Obispo County region.

Today's challenge is to be more thoughtful about our language, and how some common terms are actually tools of appropriation. Terms like ‘pow wow’ or phrases like ‘America is the land of immigrants’ for example, should be examined. Taking action is something you can do right away. Check out today’s options to learn more about how to be part of the solution. 


Additional Activities:

Reflection Questions:

  • In what ways will a better understanding of cultural appropriation inform your choices about celebrating 'holidays' like Cinco de Mayo and Halloween?
  • What patterns around you or objects do you see in your daily life that come from cultures different from your own? How may future choices and purchases be affected by these ideas of cultural appropriation?
  • How might you bring up this subject with a friend or colleague wearing clothing or a costume that seems to be cultural appropriation?
  • What monuments do you encounter daily, and who do they celebrate? Who do they leave out? Who was in power to choose that celebration?

Other Resources:

More Challenges Coming In Week 4!